Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
4,100.00 ft (1,249.68 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
9.00 mi (14.48 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Bell Canyon is a narrow, undeveloped glacial valley carving around the crest of Lone Peak in the Wasatch Mountains of UT. This challenging hike elevates adventures from the Great Salt Lake Valley to the pristine alpine ranges within Lone Peak Wilderness. Additionally, if done during peak season, this hike offers a spectacular opportunity to take in the fall colors.   

This hike includes 3 destinations: Lower Bell Canyon Reservoir, Ball Canyon Waterfall, and Upper Bell Canyon Reservoir. The first 2 miles will take hiker along a moderate to heavily trafficked common trail to the waterfall. The waterfall itself is worth a stop, but is not the final destination for those intent on reaching Upper Bell Reservoir. There is also an overlook of the valley just a few hundred feet below the falls. Fortunately, the trail becomes sparely trafficked after this point as most hikers turn back from here. Note: There are several spur trails near the waterfall, so be sure to find the T shaped junction of the main trail (marked on OnX) to continue on to the Upper Canyon.

The next 2.5-3 miles become more strenuous, with steep inclines and boulder scrambles, and may take considerably longer. However, this section is also the most rewarding. Bell Canyon—elongated and bound on each side by towering walls of shear granite—presents itself like a grand cathedral reaching within the heart of Lone Peak. During fall, its walls blaze like fire with bright red maple and cool yellow aspen tree.

While this section contains multiple strenuous inclines, there are breaks of tranquil alpine forests. These relatively flat sections, echoing babbling streams and carpeted by ferns, offer a respite between steep climbs and bounder scrambles. Embers appear to drop as the wind catches the yellow aspen and their leaves gently trickle down over the trail ahead.

The boulder scrambles should be treated with caution, but do not require much technical experience. Be on the lookout for small rock cairns which can help guide hikers over these unmarked sections. In addition, keep an eye (and ear) out for Pika and Marmots which may be spotted among the boulder fields from spring to fall. 

Finally, Upper Bell Reservoir awaits at the end of the canyon. Situated within the amphitheater shaped cirque of the valley, reaching Upper Bell lake is like approaching the alter of the cathedral after traversing through its long and towering nave. The lake offers an excellent place to stop for rest or a picnic. However, please do not swim or wash in the lake, as it is within a protected watershed which feeds municipal water supplies.

Logistics

There are 2 trailheads, both meeting at the Lower Bell Canyon Reservoir, from which this hike can be started. Continue around Lower Bell Lake and follow signs for the waterfall. Once at the waterfall, be sure to find the “T” shaped intersection to continue to the Upper Canyon. Note that the trail is not well marked after the waterfall, so mild way-finding skills may be needed.

Sturdy, closed-toed hiking shoes with ankle support are a must for this hike. Hiking poles may be helpful, but they make also get in the way during boulder scrambles. Bring extra layers as temperatures may drop at the high elevations. At least half of the trail is shaded, but sun protection (glasses, hat, sunscreen) should be considered. Finally, give yourself plenty of time for this hike to take pictures and explore detours. I recommend starting in the morning and give yourself the whole day to finish.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Fall
Spring

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Mountain Views. Fall Foliage. Waterfall.

Cons

Steep Inclines.

Trailhead Elevation

5,243.00 ft (1,598.07 m)

Highest point

9,372.00 ft (2,856.59 m)

Features

Waterfalls
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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